Jim Hoffa, the general president of the most powerful trade union in the U.S., has thanked lawmakers for carefully documenting continued violence against trade unionists in Colombia and raising concerns over the country’s weak labor laws, according to a press release from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
U.S. representatives Jim McGovern, George Miller, Rosa DeLauro, Mike Michaud, Jan Schakowsky and Linda Sanchez signed a letter last week to the White House raising their concerns about Colombia’s labor and human rights abuses.
“The letter makes clear that significant, sustained changes in conditions in Colombia must occur before congressional consideration of any trade pact would be acceptable or appropriate,” Hoffa said.
According to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a union of 1.4 million workers from public and private sectors in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico which Hoffa heads, Colombia has yet to bring it’s labor laws into compliance with International Labor Organization standards.
Since 2006, when Bush first signed the pending Free Trade Agreement with Colombia, nearly 200 trade unionist have been murdered and the prosecution rate for the perpetrators of these crimes remains low, according to the Teamsters’ press release.
“This letter should make clear to Republican congressional leaders who are pressuring President Obama for urgent action that there are specific, objective and reasonable standards to measure promised improvements in the conditions for labor and other rights defenders in Colombia,” Hoffa said.
Labor rights continue to be the most contested issue in the decision of whether or not the U.S. should pass an FTA with Colombia.
Jim Hoffa is the son of the late Jimmy Hoffa, who was also the president of the Teamsters and was perhaps the most powerful and controversial union leader of his time.